BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thursday is the deadline for cities to turn in proposals for Amazon’s HQ2 project. Amazon promises to eventually create 50,000 jobs at its second headquarters and spend $5 billion building the new campus.
It is so competitive that Buffalo and Rochester have combined forces to try to win the bid.
Wednesday, 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik spoke with one of the people at the center of that process as the deadline approaches.
Tom Kucharski with Invest Buffalo Niagara is one of the key players behind the Buffalo/Rochester bid for the new multi-billion dollar Amazon campus.
"We feel really confident about what we put together," Kucharski said.
The state agency, Empire State Development, came up with a package of tax breaks and incentives to try to win the bid for all of the cities in New York turning in proposals. Kucharski says Amazon is looking for eight-million square feet in an urban campus — something he says even the larger metros will have a hard time with.
So how big will the tax breaks be, and could Buffalo's biggest empty building be part of the proposal? Kucharski can't say — incentives and real estate are confidential.
"Let's just say I think us Buffalonians and Rochesterites, I think it is, they know where, if you're going to cobble together an urban campus, where those sites might potentially be, and so I'm just going to leave it at that because obviously if this moves to the next round, you know, those will all be in play," he said.
With everything Western New York has going for it, there are some potential concerns.
"Our particular challenge is air service. And, we think we've addressed that. We don't have direct flights, but both Buffalo and Rochester's airports, as you know, are going through considerable improvement," he said.
Win or lose, industry experts say this will show other companies what Western New York can offer.
"It would be transformative to our economy for sure. And honestly, even if we didn't get Amazon, but we got to the top 15 cities to be considered by Amazon, I think that would have a huge positive impact on our region," said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
Kucharski says Amazon hasn't told anyone what the next step is, but his team is ready for a visit.
"We know from all of the ones that have come here in the last five years, the Yahoos, the Geicos, the Sentient Science, the BAK USA, all of those, once they get here, they're like 'I get it. Wow. This is like right here, I can move around, it's cool, it's like a big city, it's very affordable, people smile, it's friendly.' That means a lot to folks, especially if they're coming from a different geography, and, you know, the West Coast is very different from the East Coast," Kucharski said.
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